MANUEL

He mixes plaster for the Aztecs and the Mayans
I remember how
he showed me I could do it
if he asked
but it is cold in the church
the spirit of health resides in the sun
I am wrapped in a blue blanket
he begins to cover the metal rebar
with burlap dipped in wet plaster
the rod will guard against the return of malevolent spirits
a piece of metal becomes a leg
he is making a woman
that shady area between life and death
it is eleven in the morning
he has smoked two cigars in an hour
smoke is the visual manifestation of evil
a final prayer invokes the power of the sun and the moon
I am watching all of this when he turns
his eyes hurt me
he does not back down
instead he holds out a glass of red wine
to insure the spirits will return
the potion must be swallowed in this church
grown over with passion vines
white plaster women freeze
to the shapes he has given them
I don’t understand what he wants
but I say yes and drink the red wine.

 

-Mary Julia, May 2, 1978